Connect with us
recycle solar panels recycle solar panels

Best Practices

Recycling Solar Panels When Constructing Green Homes




There are a lot of things that you have to think about when building a green home. One of the many things that you need to consider is the importance of renewable energy., such as solar power for your eco-friendly building

Solar panels are obviously the most common form of green energy available. You want to know how to choose the right solar panels when building the house. However, you also need to know how to recycle ones that aren’t serving their purpose.

What to Know About Recycling Solar Panels When Building a Green Home

Around 3.2 million people have solar panels installed in their homes. With the growing popularity of solar panels, many questions are being asked about the sustainability of solar panel waste. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the global installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity is expected to reach 4,500 gigawatts (GW) by 2050. Solar panels typically have a lifespan of around 25 – 30 years and with more than 1.4 million UK households already having had solar panels installed, the current recycling infrastructure will need serious improvements to cope with the increased demand.

Can you recycle solar panels?

The good news is that more than 80% of the components used in solar panels can be recycled – this is due to the use of materials like aluminium, glass and silicon. It’s also worth noting that Under EU regulations, your installer is legally obliged to take and recycle your solar panels at the end of their lifespan. Furthermore, every UK manufacturer will be part of PV CYCLE UK, a Government-approved scheme that ensures that all solar panels are collected and recycled properly. 

What are the main concerns associated with recycling solar panels? 

The primary concern around recycling solar panels is the readiness of the current recycling industry to handle the anticipated surge in future solar panel waste. Currently, the UK only has one solar panel recycling centre, Recycle Solar, based in Scunthorpe.

It is predicted that by 2030 PV panel waste could reach 14 per cent of total generation capacity and increase to over 80 per cent (78 million tonnes) by 2050. From these forecasts, it’s obvious that an increase in solar recycling infrastructure is essential. 

The solar panel recycling process

The recycling process can differ slightly depending on the type of panels you’re looking to recycle. Silicon-based solar panels are more common as they offer a higher efficiency level. Whereas thin-film solar panels only make up about 7% of the market. 

Silicon-based solar panel recycling involves disassembling panels to separate aluminium and glass, with 95% of the glass and all metal parts reused. Thermal processing and acid etching reclaim about 85% of silicon for new modules.

Thin-film solar panel recycling involves shredding and hammer milling the panels to break them down, followed by separation of liquid and solid materials. The latter undergoing metal processing and vibration separation to reclaim about 95% of the semiconductive material and 90% of the glass for reuse.

Benefits of solar panel recycling

According to Tom Baker, Co-founder of Solar Mate, “Homeowners must recycle their old panels to stop them going to landfill. With 80% of components being able to be recycled, it dramatically increases the impact on the environment”

As well as the environmental benefits, the increased demand for sufficient solar recycling resources could lead to huge opportunities in the future. We could see an increase in employment prospects as well as lucrative opportunities for recycling the raw materials used in the panels. This could be as much as  £350 million which could fund around 60 million new solar panels.

Have some inspiration about going green in all aspect of life. Views are my own.

Like our Facebook Page